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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheap land clearing

Another guest post by Tim. This one's gonna make you smile. Thanks, Tim!


CHEAP LAND CLEARING FOR A GARDEN

When we first bought our little farm our family income was about three times the current level. We had great plans of what we wanted to do with the place. Then the bottom fell out of the economy and we were barely able to keep it.

Let me explain the land and give a little history, it is 5.4 acres that when we bought it was mature pines and the thick Mississippi jungle with only a small area cleared for a house. We first moved our travel trailer here and lived in it for a year and a half while we built the house.

After logging the pines we were left with supper thick brush and lots of stumps. We didn’t have the money to get it professionally cleared and didn’t have any heavy equipment; the task of clearing was daunting. I tried to go at it once or twice with a chain saw but this was an exercise in futility, the brush was so thick you couldn’t reach the trunks to cut them down.

About this time I started getting into prepping and started thinking outside the box, we purchased two nanny goats and were given a billy that someone had bought as a pet and didn’t want any more. We didn’t have the money to fence the whole farm so we bought four 16 foot cattle panels and some small clips to hold them together. This gave us a sturdy pen to hold them in. I started by hacking a circle in the brush and dragging the panels through it. We put the goats in and let them at it. The area was so thick that the goats could go into the middle and you couldn’t see them. After about two weeks they had eaten everything they could reach and were balling for more. They had stripped everything green up two about four feet high.

The next step is not the fastest or easiest way to do things but I did it this way as an experiment. Thinking of what life would be like after TEOTWAWKI I didn’t want to use any oil products or commercial power. I bought a good pair of loppers and a good hand pruning saw. I would go into the goat pen and cut down enough brush to feed them for a day, since the goats had cleared the under brush it was easy to cut things off at ground level. It took about ten minutes a night to do this. In about three weeks I had an area that was completely cleared except for the large stumps and the goats were out of food. We then hacked another circle and moved the pen over to start again. We piled the sticks and branches on the stumps and burnt them to ground level.

After the first section was cleared we added a third nanny goat to the group so we now had four goats. This sped the process up so that it only took about a week and a half to clear a 16’ square.

The next step was to get a garden started. Since all the stumps were still in the ground and we couldn’t afford a tiller, we decided to go with raised beds. I built the beds by screwing together 30” 4x4 cutoffs I had got for free from a jobsite. Stacking them 2 high gave us raised beds that were 37” wide, 72” long, and 7” deep. We filled the beds with rabbit manure and top soil that was dug up from our place. I got the manure by offering to clean out under the cages of someone that raised rabbits.

I know that this is not the most efficient way to get to the end goal but let me break it down for you and let you be the judge of the outcome.

COSTS
Three nanny goats @ $30ea
Four cattle panels @ $20ea
One pair loppers $45
One pruning saw $16
one box of screws $19
twelve clips to hold fence together $18
one half hour a night working with my two children in the garden PRICELESS

Total cost $268

Over the last year there has been some money come into our family from this project. Our goats had babies so we sold five @ $45, the person that I shoveled the rabbit manure from gave me $50 and two butchered rabbits since he didn’t have to do it, I rented out my goats to someone that had an island in their pond that had over grown. He paid me $240 because that’s what it would have cost him to hire laborers for the job. The other thing that I don’t have a value for is all the vegetables that we have enjoyed.

$515 income
$268 costs

$247 is the total money made on this project.

I know that there are people that have been prepping for years and have awesome stores laid up for the bad times, and there are people that have the money to get this project done in a week, but that isn’t the point I am trying to make here. The main point is the paradigms shift of thinking out side the box is the best skill that we Preppers have. For very little money I have added a sustainable meat source for my family, and a productive vegetable garden. I have taught my children that if there is something that needs to get done you can work on it and make your goal.

P.S. Make sure the neighbor kids can’t open the gate to the goat pen, four goats can level a garden in about ten minutes, Trust me.

Tim

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